Arts Council England’s new report, the Arts and Place Shaping: Evidence Review points to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates culture’s role in revitalising the high street by promoting social cohesion and supporting local economies in towns, cities and villages up and down the country.
It highlights Creative People and Place’s project Right Up Our Street in Doncaster, which has supported the skills development of 50 amateur performers and 150 artists and performers, as well as the creation of 10 new amateur art groups, nine paid interns and 110 volunteers.
It also showed how cultural organisations can help build civic pride and create an increased sense of belonging in communities; increase footfall via libraries, theatres or museums; help repurpose vacant buildings and create good jobs.
A second report showed arts organisations have a strong presence on high streets across England.
Pete Massey, Director, Northern Economy and Partnerships, Arts Council England said: “Arts and cultural activity will be key in ultimately helping the night time economy recover from the current pandemic and in the longer term can be a significant contributor to the levelling up agenda, helping northern town and cities to thrive once again. These reports reveal the positive impact that arts and cultural experiences are having on our high streets – helping once run-down streets come back to life, bringing communities together and engendering a sense of pride in the places we live.
“Yorkshire is home to some fantastic cultural organisations based on the high streets of our towns and cities such as CAST in Doncaster, Rural Arts in Thirsk and Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre. Cultural organisations often bring communities together and celebrate where we live, helping to animate them and making them places we want to visit.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “These reports prove what we already know to be true, that culture is at the heart of our towns and cities. It creates jobs and makes our local communities across the country better places to live, work and visit.
"That is why we are here for culture and investing an unprecedented £1.57 billion to ensure that these important institutions – both big and small – will be able to weather the storm of the coronavirus so the public can continue to enjoy them for years to come.”